Sunday, March 25, 2012

Report: Israeli special forces clad in Iranian uniforms infiltrate regularly from base in northern Iraq

(Times of Israel) Israeli “spies” are scouring Iran’s nuclear bases for evidence that its nuclear program is operating to create weapons, Britain’s Sunday Times reported in a detailed article Sunday. The intelligence gathering has been going on for years, it said, but has been stepped up of late.

The Israeli “special forces” allegedly operate out of a base in northern Iraq, and regularly infiltrate Iranian soil in order to gather evidence of its nuclear weapons program.

According to the report in the London paper, the Israeli operatives dress up as Iranian soldiers and monitor radioactivity at various suspicious locations. Their mission is to find “smoking gun” evidence that Iran’s nuclear program is aimed at production of weapons. They reportedly use “sensitive equipment” to measure levels of radioactivity and to gather evidence of nuclear weapons-related testing.

Black Hawk helicopters are used to ferry “commandos disguised as members of the Iranian military,” the paper reported, and they travel inside Iran in Iranian military vehicles.

The paper said the missions have been going on for years, facilitated thanks to Israel’s good relations with the semi-autonomous Kurds in northern Iraq. Of late, though, the scouting has been stepped up — focusing on the Parchin military base not far from Tehran, which has attracted UN attention (including IAEA suspicions that Iran has tried to cover up nuclear activities there), and an enrichment site at Fordow outside Qom.

The Sunday Times suggested that the cross-border operations might signify an imminent Israeli military strike. Prior to Israel’s strike at a Syrian reactor in 2007, it noted, Israeli troops carried out a clandestine mission to collect information at the site.

Israel’s leaders say a nuclear-armed Iran is an existential threat. Iranian leaders often demonize Israel. Defense Minister Ehud Barak has said he is willing to give sanctions and negotiations a few more months to deter Iran from trying to obtain nuclear weapons, but suggests that, if efforts fail, Israel could strike this year. Iran insists it is pursuing nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, but warns it will strike back if attacked.

In Israel, surveys show that a majority oppose a solo Israeli attack on Iran without American military cooperation.

Retired Israeli military and intelligence leaders have advised against striking Iran, arguing, among other reasons, that Israel doesn’t have enough bomb shelters or gas masks to absorb a possible Iranian counterattack.